Mar 23, 2015

KOFA Wildlife Refuge, AZ

About a year ago we ended a trip along the Bradshaw Trail from the Salton Sea at Kofa. It was time to go back and give it it's own trip. After this trip, I can say that I'll have to do another one to begin to see all that this relatively small area has to offer.
Still, this was a good start.
 photo DSC00649.jpg  photo DSC00645.jpg A little later after dark the rest of the Arizona contingent arrived. Sarah and Brian in their amazingly clean and taken care of FZJ80 and Carrie in her brand new to her 150,000 Mile Tacoma.  photo DSC00654.jpg Now, all we had to do is find Steve, Katy and Kevin in the morning! Found em! Despite a little lagging behind plus an extra hour for the time change they arrive unscathed. ;-)  photo DSC00662.jpg Everyone circled around the Kofa Monument.  photo DSC00667.jpg The KOFA Cabin. Not a lot to it. Built by the CCC in a pretty flat and boring spot. Not worth staying at as a destination, but it would be a great meeting spot to camp at for the "travel day" of your trip.  photo DSC00657.jpg  photo DSC00658.jpg Lavish Accomodations.  photo DSC00660.jpg We started making our rough clockwise tour of Kofa.  photo DSC00674.jpg  photo DSC00673.jpg We eventually made our way to the Wilbanks Cabin. A great spot to spend the night and do some hiking.  photo DSC00705.jpg  photo DSC00675.jpg  photo DSC00682.jpg Ocotillo lined roof.  photo DSC00677.jpg Clean and tidy on the inside.  photo DSC00679.jpg I wouldn't use the stove. The mice have made it their home.  photo DSC00680.jpg Just behind the cabin is a small hill. The view from it, into KOFA is amazing. Mordor!  photo DSC00685.jpg There were an oddly large number of these centipede? Millepede? bodies around, sun bleached and hollow.  photo DSC00693.jpg Many left over century plant stalks wasting away.  photo DSC00697.jpg The sky seems bigger out here.  photo DSC00708.jpg The Hoodoo Cabin.  photo DSC00709.jpg Funny side note, Kelsey and I were the only ones who saw the Hoodoo Cabin... The group was moving very slowly after a late start. So when we pulled up to the cabin, we checked it out, took some pictures, signed the guestbook, and got back into the truck we still didn't see the next truck so we re-joined the road and kept on trucking! Yep, we're jerks, but it kept the group moving and prevented a half hour stop to check out the cabin. -Here lies my confession. ;-)  photo DSC00711.jpg This one was fairly nice and looks like it would make a great hunting cabin.  photo DSC00710.jpg  photo DSC00714.jpg As we got back onto the main trail we saw this:  photo DSC00716.jpg Oh, hey guys! Just sitting here waiting for you. Nothing to see on that side trail!! ;-) The desert out here was green and happy!  photo DSC00717.jpg  photo DSC00718.jpg I'm no geologist, but I love stratigraphy. These upturned layers sure looked cool.  photo DSC00721.jpg Green Fence.  photo DSC00725.jpg These Lichen covered rocks almost looked like homes.  photo DSC00726.jpg Kelsey and I hiked to some tanks. They were all dry. I guess our recent rains didn't hit here. Looking back at the trucks.  photo DSC00731.jpg After our little side trail we headed past the still private King Of Arizona Mine (KOFA). It looks inhabited, but it's a ramshackle collection of old trailers and DIY buildings scattered around some mining equipment. We started looking for a place to camp. Brian was insistent that we check out Big Dick Canyon. I kid you not. See it for your own eyes.  photo DSC00736.jpg Smaller that you would have thought, huh?  photo DSC00738.jpg We decided to head over to another canyon that Dennis and I had camped in before. This wave rock is just above the dead end where this canyon enters Wilderness.  photo DSC00740.jpg So, after making it to camp we sat down and got a fire going. About then, we started hearing chatter on the radio from the lagging California Contingent. I'll let my email summary to some friends explain the rest:
 "So there we are, headed to camp for the last night of the trip. We had just taken a side trail that we deemed to be, not good enough, for the final Kofa camp. So, we decided we'd go back 2 turns to the "Other" trail #21. (2 turns, remember that part)
Steve: "Hey guys, I'm in a mellow mood so we're going to hang back and take it really easy. Just go back to where we just were and turn onto #21 right?" 
Tim: "Yep, that's it. Take it all the way up the canyon and we'll be there." 

 About 20 minutes later we are in camp making a fire and hanging out. We start hearing chatter between Steve and Kevin. "So, wait, we turn here? No, there is a was an entering private property sign when we went in so there should be a leaving private property sign. Wait, no, this is the turn. No, I think it's straight, we don't turn yet. I found a mine, let's check it out. Oh yah, it was that last turn. Turn around." 

We are sitting there getting a good chuckle out of it. We decide while gathering wood that we should put a few pieces in the trail to block it. So about 20 yards before our camp spot we pile up some dead wood. I take an old piece of metal piping we found and stick it into the ground like a pole. After a while they make their way up to the road block. (Keep in mind you can see my truck at the end of the wash if you knew to look for it.) 
We hear them on the radio and even without it they are so close we can hear their trucks and voices. 

Steve: Turn around, we must have missed the turn. It's a dead end!

 After a lot of circling around and taking side trails off of the #21 road we tell them our coordinates to help. We can hear them getting closer and closer. They stop short of where the (Now cleared away) roadblock was and we can hear them say. "No, we must have missed a turn, up there is just the road block dead end." 
They decide once we honk our horn that they are close and drive on anyways. They pull up to camp and apologize to us. (We're jerks). 

 Steve: Sorry guys. I have no idea what happened. I thought we had already been up here, but we must have been one canyon over. We came to a closed road, but well.. I have no idea. I'm so sorry. We were about to give up and camp somewhere else. 
 We all kept a straight face which wasn't easy. They park and set up camp. Someone says, Let's take a group photo! (I run down the wash and pick up the metal bar we blocked the trail with.) Steve and Kevin are all ready to hike over 1 wash to see the road block that they are sure is over there somewhere. 

 Kelsey set's the timer and I run up with the bar from the road block. It takes a couple seconds and then it sinks it.... 
 Kevin: Wait... this whole thing was a joke??"

......"CLICK" Immortalized in time.
 photo DSC00743.jpg That was fun. We're jerks. Oh well. Don't fall behind. ;-) The next morning we hiked around and explored a bit. Hole in the rock!  photo DSC00746.jpg Camped under Wave Rock!  photo DSC00755.jpg  photo DSC00761.jpg Getting barreled in the wave.  photo DSC00766.jpg Looking down on camp.  photo DSC00763.jpg Cactus can grow in the strangest of places.  photo DSC00775.jpg Ocotillo were just beginning to leaf out.  photo DSC00776.jpg All in all, it was another great trip. Thanks to all the usual suspects for making it. Trucks. Kevin's Supercharged LX450:  photo DSC00748.jpg Steve and Katy's 5th Gen Trail Edition 4runner.  photo DSC00749.jpg The ever popular Ruff who always brings Dennis along.  photo DSC00750.jpg The cleanest and lowest mileage FZJ80 I know. Brian and Sarah's  photo DSC00751.jpg Carries new-ish in Toyota terms 150k Mile Tacoma.  photo DSC00752.jpg And of course. "Goose"  photo DSC00780.jpg See ya next time.  photo DSC00778.jpg

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